Eurasian crossroads history and the present in xinjiang
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Eurasian Crossroads : History and the present in Xinjiang. Ancient paintings suggest China invented skiing BEIJING, Jan. 25, 2006 ‑‑ Cliff paintings of hunters in rugged remote northwestern China appear to prove that Chinese were adept skiers as early as the Stone Age, Xinhua said Monday.

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Eurasian crossroads history and the present in xinjiang

Eurasian Crossroads:History and the present in Xinjiang


Eurasian crossroads history and the present in xinjiang

Ancient paintings suggest China invented skiing

BEIJING, Jan. 25, 2006 ‑‑ Cliff paintings of hunters in rugged remote northwestern China appear to prove that Chinese were adept skiers as early as the Stone Age, Xinhua said Monday.

The paintings in Altay, in the Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region, "have been verified as humans hunting while skiing and, therefore, archaeologists can prove the Altay region to be a place of skiing some 100 to 200 centuries ago," the news agency said.

Wang Bo, a noted researcher with the Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Regional Museum, said he had seen a picture of four people chasing cattle and horses, three of them on a long rectangular board with poles in their hands.

"Hence, he held these instruments are skis and ski poles," Xinhua said.

"(Experts) held that cliff paintings in Altay were the earliest archaeological evidence to show how humans had skied in the early days and suggest skiing had originated in Altay."

Skiing has become a popular pastime for China's burgeoning new middle class, with several slopes around the capital, Beijing, packed every winter weekend.

China has claimed a number of firsts, including the inventions of gunpowder, the printing press, golf, football and even pasta.


Three themes

Three themes

  • 1. Role of geology and the environment

  • 2. Xinjiang’s broader linkages and “betweenness”

  • 3. Modes of social and political identity are a key aspect of Xinjiang history


Periodization for discussion today

Periodization for discussion today:

  • I. Up to 18th c.

  • II. 18th c. to 1991

  • III. 1991 to present


I the pattern of xinjiang s past

I.The pattern of Xinjiang’s past

  • Continental drift → mountains →

    Asian monsoon → Xinjiang aridity


Eurasian crossroads history and the present in xinjiang

  • 100 mil ybp: India leaves Gondwanaland

  • <60 mil ybp: India collides with Eurasia

  • 22-15 mil ybp threshold mt. height reached: monsoon climate


Eurasian crossroads history and the present in xinjiang

Eriqdiki lay sudäk / ötüp ketidu yashliq(Like muddy water in the canal, youth is gone before you know it.)


I the pattern of xinjiang s past1

I.The pattern of Xinjiang’s past

. . . → Agriculture in southern oases, pastoralism in northern steppes and mountains

→ Tarim basin ruled by northern horse nomads


Eurasian crossroads history and the present in xinjiang

The pattern of the Xinjiang past: linked to Chinese - Inner Asian interactions in North China and Mongolia


I the pattern of xinjiang s past2

I.The pattern of Xinjiang’s past

→ ruling elite lends name to empire, masking great and continuing ethno-linguistic diversity

Geography enhances E-W and N-S overland communication (Silk Roads)


I the pattern of xinjiang s past3

I.The pattern of Xinjiang’s past

Episodes of involvement by China-based states:

  • Han, Tang, (Yuan), Qing

  • strategic, not economic goals

  • occurred during cooler, wetter periods in Xinjiang


Ii the great qing breaks the mold chinese republics follow up

II: The Great Qing breaks the mold; Chinese republics follow up

  • XJ conquest: joint Inner Asian / Chinese imperial enterprise

  • Aided by military, bureaucratic innovations

  • Qing comparable to other early modern empires in state capacity

  • XJ administered as integral part of Qing empire


Ii the great qing breaks the mold chinese republics follow up1

II: The Great Qing breaks the mold; Chinese republics follow up

  • Intensive environmental exploitation: mining, rangeland agriculture, forest clearance

  • Cooling climate 1770-1890→ more runoff for state farms


Ii the great qing breaks the mold chinese republics follow up2

II: The Great Qing breaks the mold; Chinese republics follow up

  • 1780-1830 state encourages Han migration, homesteading to northern and eastern Xinjiang

  • Post-1830 Han, Hui migration encouraged to southern Xinjiang

  • Shift corresponds with rising nationalism and new notions of “China”


Ii the great qing breaks the mold chinese republics follow up3

II: The Great Qing breaks the mold; Chinese republics follow up

  • Xinjiang experiences rapid “frontier style” population increase:

  • Pop. ca. 1800:

    • Han & Hui: 155,000

    • Uyghur > 320,000

  • Pop. ca. 1947:

    • Han: 222,000 (5% total XJ population)

    • Uyghur > 3,000,000 (75%)


Ii the great qing breaks the mold chinese republics follow up4

II: The Great Qing breaks the mold; Chinese republics follow up

  • Nearly seven-fold population increase in Xinjiang from conquest (late 18th c.) to 1947

  • China in same period (1790-1953) less than doubled (300 million to 583 million)

  • China under whole pax Manchurica and Republic (1685-1953) only 6-fold increase


Ii the great qing breaks the mold chinese republics follow up5

II: The Great Qing breaks the mold; Chinese republics follow up

  • Enhanced E-W communications

    • No silk road decline; increase under Qing

    • Russian, Central Asian contacts; Chinese contacts

    • Sufism

    • Trade in industrial manufactures

    • Jadidism, Turkic nationalism, Chinese nationalism, communism


Ii the great qing breaks the mold chinese republics follow up6

II: The Great Qing breaks the mold; Chinese republics follow up

  • Seeds of new identity politics

    • Qing employed ethnic categories as administrative tool (compare British India)

  • Ethno-nationalism

  • Soviet nationality policies adopted from 1930s via Xinjiang; used in PRC post-1950


Iii recent shifts xinjiang s new position in china and the world

III. Recent shifts: Xinjiang’s new position in China and the world?

  • XJ a cul-de-sac during Cold War: strategic buffer

  • Post-Cold War improvements in communications infrastructure


Eurasian crossroads history and the present in xinjiang

New Kashgar rail station (1999)


Iii recent shifts xinjiang s new position in china and the world1

III. Recent shifts: Xinjiang’s new position in China and the world?

  • Post-1991 return to usual “crossroads” mode (trade with Pakistan, Kazakstan up starting 1980s). China best positioned to take advantage of post-Soviet situation.

  • “frontier open cities” and the “three alongs” (1992)

  • Post-1992 rapid expansion of XJ foreign trade


Xj foreign trade imports and exports

XJ foreign trade (imports and exports)

1990 = 410 million (US$)

2000 = 2.3 billion

2004 = 5.7 billion

Urumchi international trade fair

inaugurated 1992


Iii recent shifts xinjiang s new position in china and the world2

III. Recent shifts: Xinjiang’s new position in China and the world?

  • Xinjiang is a metropole for Central Asia (consumer goods, construction, energy development, financial services)

  • Still dominated by SOEs;

  • Relatively little but increasing FDI

  • Some big regional and global exports: “naturally colored” (GM) cotton;

  • and. . .


Iii recent shifts xinjiang s new position in china and the world3

III. Recent shifts: Xinjiang’s new position in China and the world?

  • early fears of post-Soviet pan-Turkism; mass rebellion; radical Islam not realized.

  • little organized separatist / terrorist movement; surprisingly (?) little open violence given observed levels of dissatisfaction and dissent

  • State reconceptualization of XJ position, of identity politics:

    • Minzu no longer translated “nationality” but as “ethnicity”: 民族委员会 = “State Ethnic Affairs Commission”

    • Downplaying the "Uyghur" and the "autonomy" of XUAR


Iii recent shifts xinjiang s new position in china and the world4

III. Recent shifts: Xinjiang’s new position in China and the world?

  • Environmental aspects:

    • continued "frontier style" intense development, both as central govt. policy and private initiative.

    • degradation of river systems, forests, grasslands; sandstorms; floods; dropping water table; expansion of deserts


Some statistics

Some statistics:

  • North XJ: conversion of pastures to farmland; shrinkage of lakes: Lake Ebinor in Bortala shrunk by half 1950s to 1977 as drainage area population grew from 67,800 to 550,500. Continues to shrink by 23 sq. km annually. 1960s high levels of airborne dust one day every 2-3 years; 1990s a month and a half of high dust days annually.

  • Rangeland: loss of 240,000 hectares from 1960s to 2000. But over same periods, livestock population quadrupled from 10 to 42 million. Thinner grass over 75% of rangeland; 1000 sq. km desertified.


Eurasian crossroads history and the present in xinjiang

  • Forests: much loss due to cutting and falling water tables. 84% reduction in poplar forest in lower Tarim; 65-90% reduction of willow scrub in fringes of Taklimakan. Eastern Tianshan slopes denuded; treeline now up to 1700 meters from 1200-1400 meters elsewhere in the range. Zungharia's sacsaoul and poplar forests largely gone between 1950s and 1980s.

  • Expansion of desert: 53/87 counties have suffered desertification. Econ. losses estimated in billions of yuan. Of 33,317 sq. km reclaimed through state and private efforts from 1960s though 2000, one fifth (size of Delaware) abandoned again due to soil exhaustion, loss of water supply, salinification, sand encroachment.

  • Desert estimated in 2004 to be expanding at 400 sq. km / year. 47% of Xinjiang is defined as wasteland.


Iii recent shifts xinjiang s new position in china and the world5

III. Recent shifts: Xinjiang’s new position in China and the world?

  • global warming → growing deserts and shrinking glaciers.

  • identity politics and international dimensions of water shortage


Conclusion frontier style development in a global setting

Conclusion: Frontier style development in a global setting

  • The changing face of Xinjiang cities


Eurasian crossroads history and the present in xinjiang

Khotan bazaar1992


Eurasian crossroads history and the present in xinjiang

2004


Eurasian crossroads history and the present in xinjiang

Id Kah Mosque

Kashgar, 1930s


Eurasian crossroads history and the present in xinjiang

1970s


Eurasian crossroads history and the present in xinjiang

Id Kah Mosque and square

Under renovation in 2004


Eurasian crossroads history and the present in xinjiang

URUMCHI 1990


Eurasian crossroads history and the present in xinjiang

2004


Eurasian crossroads history and the present in xinjiang

Former Urumchi Holiday Inn,

once tallest bldg. in town.


Conclusion frontier style development in a global setting1

Conclusion: Frontier style development in a global setting

  • XJ Identity politics, too, more enmeshed in global discourses:

    • less stress on nationalism, self-determination than in 20th c. But greater world attention to XJ, Uyghur issues

    • GWOT / US-China relations

    • international human rights community involvement

  • Role of environment in shaping Xinjiang history now also very much part of global story.


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